Canine Column: Better days

By Marti Benson

As a dog walker, I am lucky to have a unique perspective on the strange times we’re in. While some of my clients are still needed in their physical offices, a growing number of them now work—or wait—from home. Travelers who were looking forward to much-anticipated getaways have been grounded. Plans to visit family or friends over a weekend have been reconsidered. From my end of the leash, I can tell you that as we  humans are struggling to adapt to new realities, our dogs love the changes. Tails don’t lie.

On daily jaunts with my friend, Sherlock, I’ve started noticing a few things. Maggie hasn’t been frantically scratching at her window when we walk by—and there’s a car parked in her owner’s driveway. Sid doesn’t run the chainlink fence surrounding his yard when he hears us coming—and I can see a TV on in his living room. Dogs and people tethered together—most of whom I have never seen before— stroll up and down the usually empty sidewalks; in the middle of the day. We wave to each other and shout, “what a cute dog!” or “I like your hat!” Tails wag vigorously and ears perk way up as our four-legged friends spot each other. Even in my own home, our dogs have happily designated themselves as my husband’s Executive Assistants these days. Crumbs from a lunchtime snack? Chip’s on it. Computer glitch during a deadline? Ernie offers his head to lower the blood pressure. Thump, thump, thump; taptaptaptap; whoosh, whoosh… As I said, tails don’t lie.

Speaking of tails—the importance of these amazing appendages should never be underestimated. First of all, tails are an extension of a dog’s spine. Long or short, the tail is a series of bones—bigger near the rump; smaller at the tip—with cushioned discs between them. Those spaces—as well as important muscles and nerves—are what allow Bailey flexibility to launch glass objects from the coffee table when she’s happy to see you. When Molly goes chasing after that Frisbee, she uses her tail for counterbalance and agility. Rusty uses his tail as a rudder when he goes for a swim. Just as important as it is for fun stuff, the anatomy of a tail plays an important role in Jake’s bowel control. A swollen, lacerated or dangling tail should always be taken seriously—and should always be seen by a vet.

These times beg for a happy ending. My advice is to spend as much time with your dog as possible. Toss that ball; brush that coat;  smoosh together on the couch. If you can, go for a walk together. The view from your end of the leash just might make you feel better. The world is still a lovely place. Tails don’t lie.




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